Many of my students – as well as members – often ask me for a book to read about the golf swing.
My favorite book written about golf is Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. The book was published in 1957 with the assistance of Herbert Warren Wind, one of the best golf writers of his time, along with illustrations by Anthony Ravielli. It is a unique blend of technical information along, with a simple view of the overall game.
I have relayed the contents of this publication not only in my teaching but also in my own game. I think the greatest testimony a person can give is to not only apply information for their personal use but also share it for the improvement of others. Hogan’s book definitely accomplishes this goal.
I recommend the book to my students because of its emphasis on the fundamentals of the game, especially the set-up. One-half of the instructional portion of the book is about the set-up (Grip, Stance and Posture). Hogan stresses the importance of the grip, stating that it “is the heartbeat of the action of the golf swing.” I agree 100 percent with this statement. Unfortunately, for most players, the grip is a neglected or “boring” part of the set-up/swing – they view it as glamour-less and accomplishing nothing. On the other hand, the accomplished player or teacher sees the grip as an integral part of the game, since the player’s only contact with the golf club is through the hands. The other pre-swing fundamentals discussed are stance and posture, which establish the foundation for the golf swing, creating the balance and poise that are necessary to create power with control.
This is the exact reason why I emphasize the grip, stance and posture in the very first lesson. I often spend an entire lesson on these fundamentals. If the golfer can set up to the golf ball with the proper grip, stance and posture, he has already won half of the battle, and then may concentrate on the actual swing itself.
I believe that players who wish to improve their golf game should take the time to read this book, due to the emphasis its author places on pre-shot routine. Hogan points out that “the only ‘technical’ thing about the golf swing is the explanation.” He goes on to state that in building a golf swing, “it really boils down to learning and practicing a few fundamentals until performing them becomes almost as instinctive as walking.”
This practical and simple viewpoint could allow a number of players to quit “over-engineering” their swings, and reduce the number of things to focus on. In turn, they would start playing the game more by feel, allowing the mind to focus on the things it needs to focus on, thus eliminating the problem of being too mechanical in their approach.
Troy Youngren is the PGA Head Golf Professional at The Links@Cobble Creek and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.